"ZAMI is a fast-moving chronicle. From the author's vivid childhood memories in Harlem to her coming of age in the late 1950s, the nature of Audre Lorde's work is cyclical. It especially relates the linkage of women who have shaped her . . . Lorde brings into play her craft of lush description and characterization. It keeps unfolding page after page."--Off Our Backs
Wow, is this a far-reaching story. I learned a lot about life as a black woman in the 30s-50s in NYC, as I expected to, but I was surprised to relate so strongly to so many aspects of Audre Lorde's life. She really spoke to me when she talked about her relationship with her mother, her many early friendships that came in and out of her life, and her difficulty with hetero-normative gender roles (which were strong even within the lesbian community). There is so much going on here that it's impossible to find nothing to learn nor relate to. She was always shut out of something or other, because she was black or because she was a woman or because she was gay or because she refused to label herself as either butch or femme. She doesn't relate to anyone in all aspects, but she relates to everyone in some aspect.
I'm dying to read and know more about Audre Lorde now, and I highly highly recommend this book, even if you aren't sure if it's for you. It is.
"Just because you're strong doesn't mean you can let other people depend on you too much. It's not fair to them, because when you can't do what they want they're disappointed, and you feel bad."-153
"By noon it amazed me that the streets of a city could be so busy and so friendly at the same time. Even with all the new building going on there was a feeling of color and light, made more festive by the colorful murals decorating the side of high buildings, public and private."-154
Lorde wrote this book in the course of her long-running dispute with the "mainstream" of the women's movement about what she saw as their failure to engage with the problem of racism. Consequently, she makes a point here of telling us about the ways in which being black made things more difficult for her. She has a perfect right to do this, of course, but when you put her experience — as a middle-class girl who went to a good school and lived in the liberal atmosphere of the Village — side-by-side with something like Stone butch blues, you do have to start wondering if social class and geography weren't far more important than race for gay people in the fifties.